Thursday, August 7, 2014

Three problems to avoid when collaborating on website development

TBH Creative is a full service website design and development firm. Sometimes clients come to us for a specific service - say they have an internal development team and only need or design services. Or perhaps they have a set design standard from a marketing firm but need that design to be developed into a website. We are happy to step into these collaborations and have a track record of successful projects when collaborating with other groups. (See our post Two Key Steps for Successful Website Collaboration.)

As with anything in life, not all projects go as smoothly as others. In the spirit of learning from our mistakes - and helping you avoid them - we've come up with three problems to avoid when collaboration on a website design or development project.

Problem #1: Overlooking the details and missing key deadlines.

Looking back on one project, we were paired up with a very experienced, internal development team. This team had been managing the existing site for years and would be doing the bulk of the development work for the new website project. We made the assumption that because of their experience certain details would work themselves out. We were wrong. Each of us had to play catch-up on a few issues and certain aspects of the problem took longer than they should have because we didn't account for them ahead of time.

Solutions:

  • Set expectations for how files will be exchanged and at what points of the project.
  • Review how to handle it when the coding isn't able to match the design. Ask how the developer plans to develop against the Photoshop file.
  • Make sure both sides are involved in decisions to change an approved design or process so you can present a unified front to the client.
  • Determine how you will test & handle revisions.
  • Estimate additional time to work with the partner - collaboration takes time.

 

Problem #2: Passing the buck.

When a client or partner comes to a project with preparation that seems to good to be true, it just might be. We've had projects where content was developed by a third party and when it came time to enter that content on the dev site, it didn't match up with the wireframes causing delays and re-work. We've had situations with ad agencies where each side thought the other was responsible for certain elements, and those elements then fell through the cracks. Over time we've learned not to fall into the trap of assumptions.

Solutions:

  • Clearly define responsibilities ahead of time. And communicate those responsibilities clearly to each part of the team.
  • When there is overlap of services, that overlap needs to be very clearly defined from the very beginning.

Problem #3: Unexpected custom applications or support requirements.

An experienced development team is great to work with. They can implement a design more efficiently and save time overall. However, that same experience sometimes means a design is being built on custom application. Without fully understanding these custom tools ahead of time, a design that is approved may not work well. Bugs and conflicts more easily arise. At the end of the day, it sometimes creates an environment that is harder to work in.

Solutions:

  • Clear communication and understanding of what the development team is capable of and wants control over. Knowing this ahead of time as part of the discovery process allows us to design according to existing standards and develop flexible tools to manage almost all aspects of the site.

Barb

About the author | Barb Ruess

Barb is a project manager and content editor at TBH Creative and has worked online since there was such a thing. She uses her skills to manage development projects, organize websites, and create and edit content. She likes to blog about content writing, search engine optimization, and offer tips for a successful website project.

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